Danville City Commission didn't directly address the elephant in a packed room Tuesday and stuck to discussion of how the city water plant project will affect rates and the upcoming budget.
An executive session scheduled to discuss personnel appointment was not held after City Attorney Vince Pennington said hiring an attorney to present the city’s case in a hearing over City Manager Paul Stansbury’s dismissal could be addressed in open session.
Pennington recommended the City Commission hire Jeffrey C. Mando of Adams, Stepner, Woltermann and Dusing, a northern Kentucky firm with specific experience dealing with termination hearings. Mando will present evidence in a hearing that likely will be formally requested this week and take place next month.
Mando will be paid $150 per hour for his services with an additional $90 per hour in paralegal fees.
The commission voted 3-1 in favor of hiring Mando. Mayor Bernie Hunstad and Commissioners Ryan Montgomery and Gail Louis voted “yes,” while Kevin Caudill, who has opposed Stansbury’s dismissal, voted “no.”
Commissioner J.H. Atkins was not present.
After hiring Mando, the commission discussed the water plant expansion project, one of the issues cited in the decision to dismiss Stansbury.
City Engineer Earl Coffey presented an assessment of the revenue that would be generated by either immediately raising rates or gradually increasing them over a three-year period to help pay for the estimated $19.6 million project.
An average water customer uses 4,000 gallons a month. Increasing the water rate from $12.10 to $17.60 a month would generate about $1 million next year, a number that would increase slightly annually.
Coffey said the immediate increase would build a reserve for future capital projects related to the water system of about $1.2 million after five years compared to about $944,000 if the incremental rate was taken.
Several on the commission said they still have reservations about asking the public to pay for the full rate increase at once after years of only occasional cost-of-living increases during which Danville had the lowest average water bills in the Bluegrass Area Development District.
Caudill asked financial advisor Michele Gosser to prepare budget numbers based the gradual increase.
The cost of the project that would be covered in the upcoming budget would include $725,000 for design and engineering fees and $80,000 for a new water storage tank in the western part of the county.
Coffey said staff is still studying whether to use a granular activated carbon (GAC) system for combating the levels of disinfectant byproducts in water or the current powder activated carbon (PAC) system.
Coffey said the cost of the GAC system would carry an initial cost of $3 million to $4 million but may pay for itself with reduction in operations cost over time.
The last action the commission took before adjourning was a vote on whether to authorize Gosser to move money from the current year’s contingency funds to fill what is about a $50,000 shortfall created by costs from the new project. Caudill and Louis voted in favor of the measure, but Montgomery and Hunstad, who said he felt the vote should be unanimous, voted “no” and the motion failed.
Commissioners are scheduled to interview engineering firms today.